GULF SHORES, Ala. (WKRG) — For almost half a century, the second weekend in October has meant one thing in Gulf Shores: the National Shrimp Festival, a crustacean celebration of food, music and arts and crafts. But, just like last year, the festival has been canceled because of COVID-19.
Festival chairman Spencer Cade said it wasn’t an easy decision to make.
“We have exhausted every opportunity and avenue that we could to try and figure out a way to do it and rationalize the risks and potential risks that we could potentially cause by having the event and we just couldn’t get there,” said Cade.
“At the end of the day, we feel like we made the right decision on the information we collected.”
Reaction to the news ranges from disappointment to anger.
“I’m sad,” said Margaret McMullen from Gulf Shores. “I had friends coming down. They were so excited about coming and seeing everything.”
“It’s canceled because too many people are unvaccinated and the safety of the workers or the actual volunteers at the festival can’t be guaranteed,” added Joan Hill from Foley.
The other big hurdle organizers couldn’t overcome was the need for 600 volunteers to work the four-day event. Less than 200 had committed to working the festival. Others cited COVID concerns as the reason for not volunteering.
The four-day festival hosts more than 300 vendors, draws 250 thousand people and pumps millions of dollars into the local economy.